Understanding children and parenting

Child psychologist Amanda Gummer has been running two different organisations for the last few years. One, FUNdamentals, is a consultancy business which she has run for over 10 years. The other is the Good Toy Guide which provides advice on toys and play and has rolled out into the Good Toy App over the last two years.

She realised that there was a lot of overlap between the two organisations and that there was information on the Good Toy Guide which was useful for parents, but which they might not go to the site for, such as how to help children with dyslexia, how to teach your child to read and how to help children – and parents – adapt to school with all the issues that involves from bullying to friendship problems. “There is a lot of parenting and education advice so I decided to put all my eggs in one basket in one comprehensive user friendly site,” says Amanda. “It’s the culmination of all that I have been working on for over a decade.”

The new website, Fundamentally Children, officially launches next week and keeps the two businesses’ separate brands, but brings them both together in one place.

Screen time

Amanda says one of the main issues parents ask her about is managing their children’s screen time. The Good App Guide’s CEO Lucy Gill is an expert on digital lives and covers everything from the use of social media to cyber bullying. Amanda says it can be difficult to watch what your children are doing online all the time and feels it is important not to demonise parents. “There may, for instance, be times when you need to get on with something else, but as long as you have parental controls on the computer, have established boundaries about what is safe, keep the dialogue open about online safety and know what they are doing you can let them be. It’s a new world for everyone and you have to talk to your children about it,” she says.

The website also covers issues such as work life balance, parental guilt, childcare and overcompensating for lack of time by buying things for children that they do not need. A growing issue is the sandwich generation of parents who are dealing with both young children and elderly parents.

Amanda is keen to support parents and not demonise them and talks about the need to make children aware that they are not the only priority for their parents. “There is no need to overparent. Children need to learn they are not the centre of everyone’s universe,” she says.

There are seven women in Amanda’s team and she outsources social media, PR and web management. Most of the people she works with are working mums and two work term time only.  Another works mainly from home and the rest work flexible hours. “It can be difficult to manage, but it works for us. It means I work with a lot of high calibre people who have years of experience. They are at the top of their game, but want to get out of the rat race and work flexibly.  It works both ways,” she says. “We need people who believe in what we do and as it is all about children working parents have a natural affinity. The work helps them understand their own children and they can relate to the work and feel empathetic.”

The business is going through the growth accelerator programme and through this Amanda has a mentor who is helping her to develop a three-year business and marketing plan. “It is helping to professionalise the organisation more and provide systems to track what we are doing and what is working,” says Amanda. “This business has never been about the money. It is about doing something we believe in. The passion has to be there.”

*Amanda will be writing occasional blogs on parenting issues for Workingmums.co.uk. Her first on bullying at school can be found here.

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